Gloria Steinem on the false feminism of Sarah Palin and Michele Bachmann
Gloria Steinem, a leader of the women’s liberation movement of the seventies, was feted at a luncheon on Wednesday in celebration of the HBO documentary about her life, Gloria: In Her Own Words. We were curious what the feminist icon thinks about women like Sarah Palin and Michele Bachmann, who are not housewives, yet support traditional values and oppose abortion. “They’re there to oppose the women’s movement. That’s their job,” Steinem said, accusing the two politicians of “selling out” the women’s movement. “That’s just the way it is; it’s inevitable. Think about Phyllis Schlafly; there have always been women like this.”
Later, during a speech, Steinem elaborated. “I can testify, the very same things people were telling me 30 or 40 years ago — it’s against nature, you can’t do this, my wife is not interested — all these [people] are now saying, well, feminism used to be necessary, but it’s not anymore. That is the new form of obstruction. And, of course, it’s accompanied by the other natural thing that happens if you have a big social justice movement: You make jobs for people who sell it out. So we have Sarah Palin and Michele Bachmann, who are on my list of ‘the women only a man could love.'”
“But it’s important to remember that though they are in the news, they are not in the majority,” Steinem continued. “And though they get elected, there’s a huge race and gender differential on who votes for them. And if you were to add the governor of Texas, Rick Perry, they are the people our founders came to this country to escape,” she told the lunch crowd. “They’re the same people, right? They’re trying to say God looks like me and not like you, and to use that politically to make a religious base. And so it is really a kind of rerun.”
As a man observing the Sarah Palin phenomena, and immediately recognizing that she was single-handedly dismantling decades of hard work by the feminist movement, I have been particularly interested in how a person like Gloria Steinem deals with watching her receive so much media attention.
This response is kind of what I would have expected, though to be honest part of me would like her to go all “Jerry Springer” on Palin’s ass and rip that fright wig and those fake glasses off her head and then turn to the media and say “How do you like her now America?” (And yes as I was typing that I realized that it was totally a stereotypical anti-feminist thing to write. Doesn’t mean I wouldn’t like to see it though.)
BTW if you are a Gloria Steinem fan (And if you are a modern woman or man completely comfortable with his masculinity [Like me] how could you not be?) you might be interested in watching her appearanceon the Colbert Report last night. It was pretty interesting, not to mention funny.